An outstanding turnout of 25 FICP members, seven nonmember planners, and 25 hospitality partners gathered at The Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Ga., March 27-28 for the Southeast Chapter regional meeting.

The packed agenda of education and networking began with the popular “Tea and Talk” session, giving planners and hospitality partners the opportunity to introduce themselves and speak to “what's keeping you up at night.” Common themes included working around the clock, last-minute meeting qualifiers, the impact of the economy and presidential politics on business, increased food prices, and the devaluation of the U.S. dollar affecting European travel. Another active session tackled green meetings, with discussions on what standards denote a green hotel, including LEED certification and lots of windows to allow natural lighting. To save paper, hoteliers encouraged planners to visit their Web sites to view brochures and banquet menus (versus the hotels' mailing promotional materials.) That evening, attendees enjoyed a delightful networking dinner sponsored by the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead.

The second day of sessions included an FICP update from Board representatives Steve Bova, CAE, executive director, and Karyn Rizzo, CMP, Sun Life Financial, vice president, regional chapters. They were pleased to announce growth in both planner members and hospitality partners.

The morning featured two speakers: John Shields, vice president, revenue operations for Hyatt Hotels, and John Foster, attorney-at-law, specializing in contract negotiations and law pertaining to the hospitality industry. Shields advised planners that revenue management systems are not meant to be adversarial, but to provide win-win solutions. “Hotels must achieve revenue goals, but if planners have flexibility, the hotel is in a good position to help them work within budgets and meet special requests and specific requirements,” he said. Foster, speaking on “What's Hot in Hotel Contracts Now,” said the current trend is to see longer and more detailed contracts that include stricter terminology in performance guarantee clauses.

The Southeast Chapter is led by Chairwoman Karen Knox, manager, meetings management, Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C., and Co-Chairman James Wolfe, director of administration, NCCI Holdings Inc.

Upcoming Events

FICP hosts two large meetings each year. Expanding leadership potential is the theme at The FICP Education Forum, taking place June 18-20, 2008, at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Workshop topics include corporate social responsibility and green meetings, strategic meetings management programs, career management, webinar best practices, and more. Registration is open to planner members, prospective planners who are eligible for membership, and invited hospitality partners.

This year's FICP Annual Conference will be held November 9-13, 2008, at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach in Cancun, Mexico, with keynote presentations by Michael Abrashoff and Jerry Linenger and a tremendous number of targeted learning tracks for senior planners, hospitality partners, and attendees with all levels of experience. Don't miss out on this premier event. Conference registration will launch in July. Visit for more information on FICP's upcoming events, including chapter meetings.

Membership Info

Join FICP today! If you are interested in joining FICP as a new member, please visit to complete an online application, or e-mail FICP at

Past members can renew their FICP membership through 2008. Simply log in to your online profile and pay your dues.